Archive for the ‘Technology and other crimes’ Category

A musical noise? A noise of scuffling?
No, but a very loud, respectable noise —-

Like groaning to oneself on Sunday morning

In Chapel, close before the second psalm.’

These charming lines from Robert Graves’ poem Welsh Incident came to mind upon hearing the news that my company is moving to Office 2016.
The work place was echoing with groans–politely stifled, mind, but groans all the same.
Farewell to comfortable Office 2013–or in the case of some benighted clingers, Office 2010. For the coming weeks–perhaps months–every effort to do the job will involve online searches to discover where Word has hidden this useful menu, Excel that invaluable tool.
I suppose I am just a SILLY to wish that things could stay the same. Particularly when they seem to be doing quite well, actually.
SO, Office 2016 is blanketing the workplace tonight.
What could go wrong?
And speaking of vile technology, I have updated my lovely Welsh Incident animation here, so that it is now in an accepted format, NO LONGER a deprecated and wicked Flash movie. Effecting this change, let me tell you dear friends, was not a walk in the park. I am Techno Queen: just saying.


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The dire month of January is speeding by–February awaits with biting cold or possibly balmy warmth, but either way it will soon be past, making way for March. The older I get (and this year I turn 70) the faster the time goes by, and though I attempt to welcome each new day, it is more of an effort that it used to be.
But let us not whine and moan, for heaven’s sake! Here we are in this pleasant land–not living in some ghastly prison camp, not cowering while bombs drop, not held at the whim of dictators–and there are MONTHS before taxes are due.

So show a little respect.
The lame disgruntlement you may sense from the lines above derives from an unsuccessful attempt to disable my ancient computer before tossing it on the dustheap of history. Having left it in the corner as I triumphantly installed my SHINING NEW machine, I finally decided the old hulk was no longer needed, so plugged it in to remove the files.
It would not turn on, not if it was ever so.
Something of a blow.
HOkay, no problem, I would simply remove the hard drive and dispose of it! I readily removed the side of the machine, and was able to dabble in its innards–but as for removing anything, NOT HAPPENING. Welded in, it seemed. One could have smashed it with a hammer–which perhaps, come to think of it, I should have done. Instead, I had a pleasant time snipping all the cords and spraying water all over what remained. Then, I inserted what was left in a garbage bag and tossed it in the bin.
I am now feverishly changing all my passwords–and I have A LOT of passwords–in readiness for the thieves and dastards who troll garbage dumps for computers, who will dry out and rewire the ancient machine and RETRIEVE ALL MY DATA.
Though that does sound pretty unlikely, actually.

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I remember reading a story once about someone who forced himself to watch a bunch of gritty John Wayne war movies to convince his TiVo that he was a Manly Man–even though he had watched Pretty Woman. TiVo had made its own conclusions, and had been showering him with romantic lady flicks.
Well, Pandora is another thing altogether–it seems to be trying to BEND my mind towards its own preferences. Pandora will make you a so-called radio station out of any song you identify as sort of template. So, say you confess to a tendre for Chopin’s Piano Concerto #1 in E Minor, Pandora (for a slight monthly fee) will then regale you with other music that its labyrinthine logarithms indicate are similar to that charming piece of music.
All is well! Music fills the air!
But bit by bit, other music slips in and all of a sudden Pandora is playing an instrumental version of The Music of the Night from Phantom of the Opera. Eh…?? Something of a winding tortuous path to get to Andrew Lloyd Webber from Chopin.

Well, they both composed for musical instruments, I suppose. Violins featured in both pieces of music.
But I am not powerless in this! A quick click on the Thumb Down icon, and BOOM, Pandora is obediently playing Chopin again, head deferentially bowed.
However, as time goes by Pandora slyly starts interposing other music, music which I like, do you see–but which eventually will lead to Andrew Lloyd Weber.
Or even worse–to BARBRA STREISAND.
This has happened.
So I find I must be ever vigilant, ready to clamp down without mercy.
For this aggravation I pay $54.89 a year.

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I have been struck low and deadly blow, comrades! Sugarsync, a back up and file syncing program which I have been using for years–YEARS–suddenly turned on me like a vicious snake. And, DELETED HUNDREDS OF MY FILES. Whoops, said Mr. Program Support when I cried out in my agony. Hey, our bad! Oh, they are “working on it”.
Which is such a comfort of course.
But, ha ha, I have another back up program in place! Code 42, which backs up everything on the computer every day! So all is well!
Except, what do you know, my subscription ran out in March, just around the time that Verizon stopped providing webmail, switching subscribers over to AOL. So all their warning messages (7 of them, I was told later) were never delivered, or went into the efficient AOL spam folder. And consequently, Code42–without any malice, more in sorrow than in anger, I like to think– dutifully had deleted all my files from their servers.
Image result for nightmare painting
And yes, I DO in fact have an external hard drive for saving backups. The fatal error was in NOT DOING THE BACK UPS.

All those backups seemed a waste of pay.
Now my database has gone away.
Oh I believe in yesterday.

There’s not half the files there used to be,
And there’s a deadline hanging over me
The system crashed so suddenly.

I pushed something wrong
What it was I could not say.
Now all my data’s gone
and I long for yesterday-ay-ay-ay.

The need for back-ups seemed so far away.
I thought that it was here to stay,
Now I believe in yesterday.

Lagniappe: when I came home this evening the INTERNET WAS BROKEN. Which is to say, the router was blinking red, unable to provide access.
I shall just go out in the garden and eat wooly worms.

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Today I finished the third book in the series I am listening to–complicated, difficult books, filled with betrayal and devastation, but transformed by the stories of good and loving men and women, who are undaunted in the face of ghastly danger, impossible odds. In this series, even the best and most loved characters are not spared–but their deaths are heroic, are notable. One of them is so magnificently brave, so deeply honorable, that the god of death himself appears in all his grim darkness to take valiant warrior at the end–an unforgettable scene. VERY bloody and violent I admit, quite horrible.
But, moving.
HOWEVER. I finished the book, as I said, and and upon eagerly rushing to download #4 discover that the brilliant narrator has been supplanted by a pale ineffectual rival. The reviews were grim–one and all despaired–they too had been mesmerized by this reader and now felt betrayed, lost. The new reader competent perhaps–but nothing like the fabulous artist we had come to love.
Of course, I had already made a purchase by the time I came to the reviews. So, I hastened to cancel my purchase, and got the message that an email had been sent to my Verizon account.
So I scurry off to Verizon.
ANOTHER BETRAYAL! I find that Verizon has decided that it will no longer provide email. If I want to keep that email address, I can move to AOL–too TOO shaming!–or I can move contacts and emails manually to another provider. Note: all my business is done through that email account. Amazon, Amtrak, Ancestry, BestBuy, Dropbox, Facebook….and on through Zappo and Zoho.
Here is a picture of “Hope in a Prison of Despair,” 1887, an allegory by the Pre-Raphealite Evelyn De Morgan. Just saying.
Image result for paintings of despair

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I have come across two news articles that CHALLENGE one’s moral universe. It’s like the whole butter-is-bad-NO-butter-is-good controversy, though I own NOT quite as close to the heart.

Morally Challenging Traffic Choice
Consider that moment when you see a sign on the highway indicating that your lane is going to be closed in a couple miles–and how you continue driving on but start feeling the moral pressure to merge into the other–more virtuous–lane. The Virtuous Lane is now slowing down, as drivers leave the other lane–now identified as the CHEATERS lane–to take their place with the Good Citizen Drivers. The moral force to join the Good Citizens is very impelling.
But now various traffic engineers are telling us to resist! We should, they say, continue on in the Cheaters Lane, thus creating the zipper merge–so much more effective in moving traffic. They are going to have to think up some very potent messaging to counter the feeling of entering the dark side by continuing on the soon-to-be-closed lane.
Particularly in Minnesota.
Image result for zipper
Morally Challenging Escalator Choice
When using the escalator, it is understood that those unfortunately unable to USE THEIR LIMBS stand to the right so that those of us blessed with the ability to walk can pass by. However, escalator engineers have discovered that the escalators are suffering from this uneven use, and would be more robust (=break less often) if EVERYONE just stepped on and then stood there like flabby suitcases on a luggage carousel. HA! Good luck with that one, escalator engineers! NOT going to happen. As it happens, this was a story in China, where there are billions of people using the escalators, and anyway in the west the escalators change direction, do not always tediously go in the same direction.

So I believe we can blow our noses in the direction of that idea.
Image result for clogged escalator

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I JUST had time for a quick grocery shop on Thursday evening before my ballet class, and darted into the store, grabbing that handy dandy laser gun, and scanning the needful items before popping them into my bag–sultanas and dried cranberries for the morning oatmeal, coffee beans, cans of beans for the neighborhood food drive, all neatly packed and ready to be paid for at the register.

But when I scanned the gun at the register up came that glum message:”HELP IS NEEDED WITH THIS ITEM”. What that means is that the system thinks I am a THIEF and a company employee must come over and rescan a random sample of the items in my bag in order to foil my fiendish plot. As I was a little pressed for time, the system naturally chose that moment to bring the club down on my innocent head.
An indolent youth ambled to my side, took the radar gun and began aiming at a paper of bar codes.
Time went by.
Nothing happened.
I spoke with some heat to the lad, saying that I was in a HURRY. He responded in disapproving accents, explaining that it wasn’t working.
I am a mild tempered lady, polite to a fault, always ready to see the other fellow’s point of view.
HOWEVER. It had not been a great day, and I did not want to miss my class.
Comrades, I am ashamed to report that I found myself overwhelmed by a sudden impulse of rage. Snatching up my so carefully filled bag, I upended it into the cart and let the raisins, the coffee, the canned goods so virtuously assembled, all tumble out. Out I marched in a storm of ridiculous vexation, ignoring the rude exclamation of the inept youth.
Sigh. We are none of us perfect.
So today I returned to the scene of the crime, and reassembled the items. As I left that place, I pushed a dollar into the Salvation Army bucket, which was being managed by a man inexpertly playing a TUBA of all things. He was playing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, and I found myself silently singing along–through the years, we’ll always be together, if the fates allow.
But the fates didn’t allow.

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